Council supports facade improvement program

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Clearview is proceeding with the creation of a community improvement plan to encourage the beautification of commercial areas in the township.

With the full support of council, Clearview’s director of community services Mara Burton was directed to proceed with a public meeting in May.

The municipality will be asking the public, especially business people, what they would like from the proposed community improvement plan (CIP).

The proposed plan would see grant money made available to shop owners or tenants who wish to make improvements to building facades in commercial areas.

In her presentation to council Monday, Burton showed images of Creemore’s downtown as examples of facades that make for a cohesive streetscape.

She called the façade “the packaging” of a business and said people will travel for an authentic experience.

Burton is proposing a funding program for those who wish to improve signage, lighting and reclaim the heritage aspects of the buildings. She used some of Stayner’s main street businesses as examples. For instance, the program would encourage property owners to uncover the decorative cornices at the top of the buildings.

“There are many excellent examples of heritage buildings that are classic,” said Burton.

There is $50,000 set aside for the program in this 2017 budget. Burton is proposing maybe one intake this year to start, when businesses would be asked to submit applications for funds.

“It takes a lot of time and effort to do this so we want to make sure it’s worth everyone’s while,” said Burton.

Councillors are very supportive of the plan. There was a consensus that the municipality should not fund 100 per cent of the project and that instead the plan should be offered as a matching grant or have at least some buy-in from the businesses that will benefit.

Burton suggested keeping the application simple and offering support for those who request help with design.

“The CIP can’t be everything to everybody,” said Burton.

“But if we try to do that it’ll never get off the ground.”

The proposal is to open the program to all commercial properties in any settlement are within Clearview and to businesses located at gateways.

Councillor Shawn Davidson said the belief is that the investment in the community, calling it a “hand-up”, would attract more business, shoppers and residents. He said it’s not a lot of money in the overall budget and he would support increasing it to $100,000 per year.

Councillor Kevin Elwood called it an “awesome opportunity” and Councillor Doug Measures said, “the best thing we can do is support small business.”

“This is exciting,” said Councillor Robert Walker, adding it is a friendlier approach than property standards, which has been considered by council and staff.

Councillor Deborah Bronée asked that accessibility standards be considered during the creation of the CIP.

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